ST. LOUIS (AP) -Rick Majerus, hired to pull Saint Louis to national prominence, is not wasting any time making his mark on the program. In the Billikens' lone exhibition, the team's top returning scorer began the game on the bench.
Forward Tommie Liddell III is a silky talent who averaged 15 points and nearly seven rebounds last season and can carry the offense in spurts. Majerus thinks he glides too much, especially on defense, and volunteered Liddell would have watched a lot more of Saint Louis' 71-54 victory over Missouri-St. Louis last week if he had more depth.
``How about him getting blown off left to right when the guy went to the basket right by him?'' Majerus said. ``Good players don't let that happen, and he's got to have a sense of pride in his defense.
``I can show it to him on film, the films never lie.''
Always the star, Liddell said it's the first time any coach has ever ridden him about his defense. He vows to take the benching and the public advice to heart, and insisted there were no hard feelings.
``He wants me to cut harder and he just wants me to go all-out on every possession,'' Liddell said. ``He's really been on me about it. I think it's kind of a great thing for me.''
Saint Louis is banking on the rotund, intense Majerus being a great thing for the program that's languished in mediocrity. The 59-year-old Majerus, back in coaching for the first time since 2004 and armed with a six-year contract, is one of college basketball's star minds.
Majerus has produced 11 NCAA bids in 20 seasons, has never had a losing season, and has a career record of 422-147 with 15 total postseason appearances. He inherits four starters off a 20-win team, indicating the cupboard is far from bare, yet he realizes the challenge ahead.
T in the Hispanic College Fund Classic in Pittsburgh, with the home opener against Detroit on Nov. 14. Majerus also is busy building future depth, visiting with three potential recruits the day after the exhibition game with another prospect watching the game.
``We got a lot of fastbreak baskets and we had a good recruit in, so that's impressive for him,'' Majerus said. ``We're constantly being barraged by recruits.
``You've got to have players, since you can't get them in an acquisition.''
The biggest challenge will be altering the focus to the wings. The offense last season revolved around center Ian Vouyoukas, who averaged 12 points and seven rebounds.
``Their push last year was to the middle and my push is more to the outside, so it's a tough thing for the kids,'' Majerus said. ``Those changes are hard to go through for kids.
``It's going to be an interesting year, but I don't know what kind of year it's going to be.''
Players know Majerus is intense from his exhausting, closed-door practices. He was fairly subdued on the court in the exhibition game, often standing with hands stuffed into his pockets, although he held nothing back during his postgame critiques.
Forward Luke Meyer said Majerus also made a lot of good ``teaching points'' during the game.
``He got on you if you did something bad, and he also pointed out a lot of the good things we were doing,'' Meyer said. ``Throughout the game, we were making adjustments.
``He wasn't getting in your face, but he was definitely coaching the entire time.''

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